Having written about wines inspired by the end of the word I have spotted a story about a wine at is out of this world – literally. Astronomer Ian Hutcheon has created a wine with a 4.5 billion-year vintage.
Originally from Norwich in the UK, Ian Hutcheon settled in Chile and runs both the Tremonte Vineyard and the nearby astronomy centre, Centro Astronomico Tagua Tagua. Tremonte is located in the Andes, on the Costa Mountains and the Rekewa Mountain in the southern extreme of the Cachapoal Valley.
The vineyard lies on an old gold mine Los Coipos which was abandoned years ago and the grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot and Viognier. The area is dotted with boutique vineyards and Tremonte is on precipitous slopes of 45° to 51°. The vines that stem from here are of the highest above sea level in Chile, so high that sometimes in the winter they can get lost amongst the clouds.
Ian Hutcheon’s new wine, Meteorito, combines his love of astronomy and wine making. It is aged with a meteorite which came from the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter and is 4.5 billion years old. The meteorite, which is about three inches wide, is from an American collector’s private collection and crashed into the Atacama Desert in northern Chile about 6,000 years ago.
Hutcheon says that “when you drink this wine you are drinking elements from the birth of the solar system” and that the idea behind submerging it in wine was to give everybody the opportunity to touch something from space, and extra-terrestrial rock, the very history of the solar system, and feel it via a grand wine.
Hutcheon began making the first lot of Meteorito in April 2010 from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The grapes then went through a process of alcoholic fermentation for about 25 days, before undergoing malolactic fermentation for about 12 months to refine the taste of the wine – it was during this process that the wine was held in a wooden barrel with the ancient meteorite. Hutcheon said he believes the meteorite gives the finished wine a “livelier taste”.
So far more than 10,000 litres (2,200 gallons) of Meteorito has been produced and it has caused quite a splash in Chile – being featured on the national news.
The wine is currently sold exclusively at the Centro Astronomico Tagua Tagua and Hutcheon said he would like to export it to other countries including the UK.
I must admit that it’s an interesting concept and it certainly turns the idea of terroir on its head, in more ways than one.